Riotous fan behavior, wild behind-the-scenes machinations, and madcap histories dominate in this unrivaled exploration of the modern American sports stadium.

The American sports stadium, for all its raucous glory, is an overlooked centerpiece—a veritable temple—of our national culture. A hallowed ground for communal worship, this is where history is made on grass, artificial turf, hardwood, and even ice; where nostalgia flows as freely as ten-dollar beers; where everything thrills, from exploding fireworks to grinning cheerleaders. In The Arena, "an altogether new and riveting sports classic" (Josh Wilker), intrepid sportswriter Rafi Kohan crisscrosses the country, journeying from one beloved monument to the next. As he finagles access to the unexpected corners and hidden corridors of our most frequented fields, he discovers just what makes them tick—and what keeps us coming back time and time again.

Beginning with the "old-timers," Kohan pays his respects to Chicago’s ivy-laced Wrigley and Green Bay’s lovable Lambeau, which have creakily adjusted to the twenty-first century while maintaining those age-old quirks fans have prized for generations. Juxtaposing these cherished time capsules with mighty new mammoths like Dallas’s shiny AT&T Stadium, Kohan examines the often-punishing realities of how they are built, from architectural ambition to controversial funding and political strong-arming.

Meanwhile, just outside the turnstiles of these commercial cathedrals, whole ecosystems flourish, buzzing with charming merch men and cutthroat ticket scalpers. Trips to Cleveland’s Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena illuminate such shadow economies, revealing the remarkable impact a team—and even just a single player (yes, we’re looking at you, LeBron James)—can have on an entire city. With infectious enthusiasm and wit, Kohan also explores the behind-the-scenes logistics and deeply ingrained traditions within these bustling facilities, cracking open a secret world of unforgettable characters—groundskeepers, mascots, halftime performers—who work tirelessly to make the live event worth the price of admission.

If you’ve ever wondered how they coordinate those fighter jet flyovers with the national anthem, how many hot dogs they serve in a day at Citi Field, how boozy pregame tailgates are kept in line, or what on earth AstroTurf is made of, look no further. As rowdy and rollicking as its subject, The Arena is a must-read for diehard fans, shameless bandwagoners, umpires, broadcasters, groundskeepers, culture junkies, tailgaters, and anyone else who’s ever eagerly headed off to the ballpark to catch a game.


The New York Times

The Wall Street Journal

The Christian Science Monitor

GQ (excerpt and humor piece)

The Washington Post (op-ed also syndicated in Chicago Tribune and Kansas City Star)

LA Times (op-ed)

The Ringer (excerpt)

The Post Game (op-ed)

Men's Journal (Best books of August)

The Daily Beast (excerpt)

Huffington Post

CBS Sports

Amplify the Mag


National Trust for Historic Preservation

Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Atlanta Jewish Times

Hoop Magazine (Required Reading)

InStyle Father's Day Gift Guide

NY Sports Day

The Sports Quotient


Front Office Sports

The Sports Biblio

The SABR Bookshelf

College AD Author Series



NPR Weekend Edition with Scott Simon

The Will Leitch Experience

Elliot in the Morning

Fox Sports Radio with Steve Gorman

KCRW 89.9 Los Angeles

ESPN Rochester 95.7

KERA's Think with Krys Boyd

NBC Sports Radio with Scott Seidenberg

WAMC Studio 360

Knowledge@Wharton Radio

Game Ops Podcast

Sports with Friends with Seth Everett

The Mike Janela Show

Sports Jam with Doug Doyle

Sports Business Radio

The Sunshine Boys

Beyond The Game (White Plains Community Media)

Sports Net 960 The Big Show

Life of Dad

Sports Talk NY

WCCO News Radio 830 with John Hines

SportsChat 103.7 The Game

It's Your Money

Refresh (by Little Things)